By JULIET LINDERMAN
WASHINGTON (AP) - As allegations of sexual misconduct against powerful lawmakers roil Congress, a Senate ethics panel is opening a preliminary inquiry into Minnesota Sen. Al Franken.
Five women in the last two weeks have accused the Democrat of misconduct in years past. On Thursday, a woman told CNN that Franken cupped her right breast when she stood next to him for a photo in December 2003.
Senators on the bipartisan ethics panel say in a statement that they are aware of the allegations and are opening the inquiry into Franken's alleged misconduct.
Franken has apologized and said he welcomes an ethics investigation.
Before the ethics committee announcement, his spokesman released a statement saying that Franken "has never intentionally engaged in this kind of conduct."
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